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Arts Council England and Creative & Cultural Skills publish guide on internships in the arts

28 November 2011

Arts Council England and Creative & Cultural Skills have today (Monday 28 November) published Internships in the arts – a guide for arts organisations.

The guide offers advice on how to develop high-quality and mutually beneficial employment opportunities, and sets out the legal obligations for arts and cultural organisations offering internships.

Internships in the arts recommends characteristics for a high-quality and successful internship, these include:

· An open, transparent and fair recruitment process

· Being well planned and based on a wider internship and equal opportunities policy

· Offering meaningful experiences and responsibilities that contribute to the aims of the organisation

· Paying interns at least national minimum wage.

The guide also highlights the legal obligations for organisations offering internships, including the need for them to ensure that they are operating within the requirements of the National Minimum Wage Act.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:

“We firmly believe that arts and culture will benefit from the new ideas and perspectives presented by a workforce drawn from all sectors of society. Well-planned, paid internships have a role to play in bringing about this change by helping people from all backgrounds gain experience of working in the arts.

“These guidelines will support arts and cultural organisations in developing these kinds of high-quality employment opportunities to create a future generation of highly skilled arts leaders.”

Catherine Large, Joint Chief Executive, Creative & Cultural Skills, said:

"We have long been committed to opening up entry routes into the creative and cultural industries – the sector can only grow if it has access to the widest pool of talent. Through our work in this area developing the first-ever apprenticeships for the creative sector, we realised how reliant the sector is on unpaid labour, how important first-hand work experience is and what the demand is from young people for jobs”.

Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings said:

“Internships are most beneficial when they form a dialogue. Arts organisations have both a duty and an incentive to provide encouragement, education and real opportunities in exchange for a young person’s passion and ideas. Talented interns respond to responsibility and engaging tasks, not unpaid coffee rounds or menial chores. The Arts Council and Creative & Cultural Skills have recognised this and produced a valuable set of guidelines all arts organisations should consult when considering internship positions.”

The report, which reflects the Arts Council’s goal to build a skilled and diverse arts workforce, considers the issues around the existence of unpaid internships within the arts sector. While both the Arts Council and Creative & Cultural Skills acknowledge the potential implications for arts and cultural organisations in offering better quality internships, it is hoped that organisations will endorse these guidelines and commit to providing high-quality, paid internships that open employment opportunities in the arts to all..

You can read the full document online at

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Gill Roth, on Communications consultant to Creative & Cultural Skills on 020 7639 3709 or


Emma Russell, Media Relations officer, Arts Council England on 020 7973 6890 or

Creative & Cultural Skills is the sector skills council for the creative and cultural industries. Our remit includes craft, cultural heritage, design, music, performing arts and visual arts across the UK. Founded in 2004, Creative & Cultural Skills was granted a new licence to operate in January 2010. Creative & Cultural Skills is a member of the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils. Together we oversee the strategic development of the workforce in our industries and deliver realistic solutions to skills needs.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

For more information and advice contact:

HMRC Pay and Work Rights Helpline: 0800 917 2368 (8.00am to 8.00pm, Monday to Friday and 9.00 am to 1.00 pm Saturday)

National Minimum Wage Enquiries Freepost PHQ1Newcastle Upon Tyne NE98 1ZH

BusinessLink: Understanding National Minimum Wage law

Guidelines for Employers Offering Work Experience in the Creative Industries (covering volunteering, work experience, internships, Apprenticeships and traineeships)